The Rising Tide of Seaweed: How it’s becoming a new eco-friendly trend

Image of seaweed in human hand. Bushwick Bites.The Rising Tide of Seaweed: How it's becoming a new eco-friendly trend

Seaweed has been a staple of various cuisines for centuries, but in recent years, it has emerged as a new eco-friendly trend, gaining traction in industries that prioritize sustainability and environmental consciousness.

One of the industries where seaweed is making a significant impact is fashion. Seaweed-based fabrics are not only biodegradable and compostable, but they also possess natural antibacterial properties, making them an ideal choice for clothing items like swimwear and activewear. By using seaweed-based fabrics, designers can create sustainable and eco-friendly clothing without sacrificing style and functionality.

Mara Hoffman, a New York-based fashion brand, has incorporated seaweed-based fabrics into its collection. The brand’s spring 2021 collection features pieces made from Tencel™ Lyocell with SeaCell™ fibers, a sustainable fabric made from seaweed and wood pulp. Outerknown, a sustainable clothing brand co-founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater, has also incorporated seaweed-based fabrics into its collection. The brand’s “Evolve” collection features pieces made from a blend of organic cotton and SeaCell™ fibers.

Seaweed is also gaining popularity in the food industry, particularly as a plant-based alternative to meat. It is a rich source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Seaweed’s versatility is unmatched, and it can be used in a variety of dishes, from sushi rolls to salads to soups. It is also a sustainable food source that requires no fresh water or fertilizer to grow, making it an ideal choice for a planet facing water scarcity and environmental challenges.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, two of the leading plant-based meat companies, have already begun experimenting with seaweed-based ingredients as a way to create more sustainable and eco-friendly meat alternatives. These companies are using seaweed-based ingredients to create a variety of products, including plant-based burgers, sausages, and nuggets.

However, seaweed’s sustainability benefits extend beyond just fashion and food. Seaweed is also a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more efficiently than trees, and it can help mitigate the effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication. Scientists are even exploring the potential of using seaweed to develop biofuels and other renewable energy sources.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, are working on a project that aims to create a sustainable biofuel from seaweed. The project involves growing seaweed, harvesting it, and converting it into a biofuel that can be used to power cars and trucks. The project’s goal is to create a sustainable biofuel that does not compete with food production and does not have a negative impact on the environment.

Seaweed is also being used to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication. Ocean acidification is caused by the increase in carbon dioxide levels in the ocean, which leads to a decrease in pH levels, making it more acidic. Eutrophication is the excessive growth of algae and other organisms in the water, leading to oxygen depletion and the death of marine life. Seaweed can help to reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean, which can help mitigate the effects of ocean acidification. It can also absorb excess nutrients in the water, reducing the growth of harmful algae and other organisms.

In the Bushwick community, several businesses have already started incorporating seaweed into their products. BK Taco Factory, a popular taco spot, offers a Vegan Tofu “Fish” Taco with a seaweed-infused batter that provides a subtle taste of the ocean. Alphaville, a bar located in Brooklyn, offers a cocktail called “The Seaweed is Always Greener,” which features a seaweed-infused gin and garnish.

Seaweed is a versatile and sustainable solution that is making waves in various industries. Its benefits extend beyond just fashion and food, with potential applications in climate change mitigation, renewable energy, and ocean conservation. As more businesses and individuals start incorporating seaweed into their products and practices, we can look forward to a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.

by Akira Kim